Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Hunter Valley Bushrangers

George Jones and Joseph Bowers

George Jones arrived in New South Wales on the Dunvegan Castle in 1830 having been tried in London for highway robbery.

He was assigned to Captain John Pike in the Hunter Valley and first came to the attention of the authorities in January 1842 when he joined with Joseph Bowers to rob the Scone mail. Soon afterwards they also robbed John Lucas on the Muswellbrook road, however George Jones' more notable exploits as a bushranger began after he left the Hunter Valley.

He arrived at George Bowman's property in the Hunter Valley after bushranger Martin Cash had departed but knew Cash by reputation. Cash later met him in Port Arthur and wrote of Jones in his memoirs: -

'I was now employed in carting stone from the quarry in charge of a free officer, and it being close upon Christmas, I deferred making another attempt for a least a fortnight or three weeks, when by that time, I should be perfectly recovered from the effects of my last adventure. The men who worked in the quarry, although belonging to the party, yet formed a separate body. We were permitted however, to converse freely; and here I became acquainted with (Lawrence) Kavanagh and (George) Jones, both of whom had been transported for life from Sydney for being under arms in the bush (but not together).

My last affair being the current topic, Jones in conversation privately informed Kavanagh that my name was not unfamiliar to him, having heard it frequently mentioned while in the service of Captain Pike (but this was after I left the service of Mr. Bowman). Some time before, he also informed him that I was considered the cleverest bushman in New South Wales and a person who could be depended upon.

Of course, I was ignorant of all this at the time, and only recollect that while waiting in the quarry for the carts to be laden, Jones called me aside and enquired if I had been a stock rider for Mr. George Bowman. I answered 'Yes'. He then told me that he knew me well, if not personally at least by report, being assigned to Captain Pike shortly after I left the Hunters River

'And now Martin', he observed,' since we know each other, is it your intention to go again (meaning to abscond)?' I looked at him for a moment, 'Yes.' I replied

Joseph Bowers

Joseph Bowers was an assigned servant to William Blaxland of Cassilis. He arrived on the Lady Harewood in 1831 and by the time of the Scone Mail robbery in 1842 had already been in trouble with the authorities many times over.

After absconding from the Australian Agricultural Company in 1833 he was sent to the iron gang at Newcastle. He absconded again when re-assigned to William Blaxland.

His description was posted in the Government Gazette - Occupation - Nailer; age 32; native of York. 5' 7 1/4'; ruddy and freckled complexion. Light brown hair, light hazel eyes, small scar over (r) eyebrow, tattoos.

The Trial

George Jones, under sentence of transportation for life, assigned to Captain Pitke, of Merton, from whose service he absconded on the 25th of May last, and who had been taken into custody on Monday last for attempting to pass a cheque for £25 5s. on the Commercial Bank, the same having been stolen from a letter in the Muswellbrook mail bag during the preceding week, was yesterday fully committed by the Hyde Park Court for the said robbery, after which Joseph Bowers, under sentence of transportation for life, assigned to Mr. William Blaxland, of Cassillis, from whose service he had absconded on the 20th of June last, was placed at the bar along with Jones, when Mr. John Lucas, superintendent to Mr. Buchanan's establishment, at Marsheen, beyond Muswellbrook, deposed that, on the 17th instant, as he was riding along the Muswellbrook-road, about eight or ten miles from Maitland, the two prisoners rushed out of the scrub, each presenting a double barrelled gun at him, compelled him to dismount and accompany them into the bush between thirty and forty yards - they then searched him, and took from him a cheque for £2 10s., drawn by Mr. Keys (.superintendent lo Capt. Dumaresq) in favour of a person named Taylor, and payable at the Bank of Australia; they also took nine shillings in silver from his pocket, and compelled him to remain with them from two in the afternoon till seven at night. They otherwise treated him very well, and before he left they returned him five shillings to pay for his bed, and gave him up his watch and the mare he was on when they stopped him.

The prisoners offered no defence, and were both committed to take their trial for highway robbery, they being at the time convicts, illegally at large, with loaded fire arms. Captain Innes ordered a reward of 20s. to constable Lynch for taking Bowers, whom he apprehended in Castlereagh-street, about seven o'clock, on suspicion of being a runaway.

Captain Innes remarked at the time that he would commit them for trial for the robbery of John Lucas which would insure them as severe a punishment as the other, but that it would do away with the necessity of forwarding them to Maitland, where there was a greater chance of their escaping.

Joseph Bowers was sentenced to transportation for life. He was sent to Port Arthur but soon absconded. With five other men, he was found guilty of bushranging in March 1844 and sentenced to death without any hope of mercy.

George Jones was sentenced to transportation for Life to a penal settlement and was sent to Van Diemen's Land also. He met up with Martin Cash in December. They escaped together with another convict *Lawrence Kavanagh the day after Christmas in 1842.

George Jones was hanged 30 April 1844.

*Lawrence Kavanagh arrived on the Ferguson in 1829. He was hanged at Norfolk Island after a convict uprising in 1846.